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Kenneth R. Bennett


1936 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Kenneth R. Bennett Obituary
(News story) Kenneth R. Bennett, co-owner of a landmark flower shop and a major investor in Toledo professional hockey during the 1980s, both with his spouse, Jack Canfield, died Tuesday in Largo Medical Center, Largo, Fla. He was 79.

He was hospitalized after a stroke at the couple's Seminole, Fla., home three days earlier, Mr. Canfield said.

Mr. Bennett had a background in cost accounting, and Mr. Canfield was an executive with a retail pet business when, in 1977, they bought the Flower Market on Monroe Street across from Toledo Hospital, which opened in the late 1940s.

"We both complemented each other," Mr. Canfield said. "Ken was very strong with bookwork and profit and loss. I was good with buying."

The store had four employees, but as many as 25 worked there as key holidays approached. The store's prominent display ads in The Blade called attention to its location, longevity, and extended hours, and the price for a dozen roses - several times less than the competition.

"We had the clout with the wholesaler and the growers and worked on a very small gross margin," Mr. Canfield said. "We used roses as part of our shtick to get people in the store."

Patrons walked through the Flower Market's front door and found that "every flower available at that time of year would be available and be on display," Mr. Canfield said. "And we had it at the lowest price. We had full-time professional designers who could arrange them."

The store did a strong funeral business and might prepare flowers for two dozen weddings over a weekend. And all transactions were cash - or credit card - and carry.

"We did everything a traditional florist would do, but we would not deliver," Mr. Canfield said.

ProMedica bought the Flower Market in 2004, agreeing to keep on the store's employees, and Mr. Bennett and Mr. Canfield retired. The store now is across the street from the original location.

The couple were hockey fans and attended Goaldiggers games regularly at the Toledo Sports Arena. The team seemed endangered in the early 1980s when Jerry Francis, a former general manager of the Sports Arena, leased the team from Virgil A. Gladieux, owner of the franchise and the arena. Published accounts at the time referred to Mr. Bennett and Mr. Canfield as the team's biggest investors and biggest financial supporters.

Unlike baseball, with a lull after each pitch, or football, with a pause after every play, "in hockey it's constant, constant, constant, back and forth," Mr. Canfield said. "We loved the excitement of hockey."

The couple had first row seats by the blue line "and never missed a game when they were in town," said Don Waddell, a former Toledo Goaldigger team captain, who became friends with the couple. Mr. Waddell and his wife, Cheryl, were married at the couple's summer home at Round Lake in Michigan.

"I really admired Ken and what he did for the people around him," said Mr. Waddell, now president of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. "He was like a father figure. It was a special bond I formed with both of them."

The Goaldiggers closed shop in the summer of 1986, and Mr. Francis died that October. The couple bowed out of hockey financing. Instead, for more than a decade they owned Standardbred horses that competed mostly at Toledo Raceway Park. They also traveled the country and the world.

Mr. Bennett, the son of Alice and Gilbert Bennett, was born Oct. 2, 1936, in Streator, Ill., and was a graduate of Howe High School in Indianapolis. He was an Army veteran and served in Germany.

The couple met in Chicago and last summer celebrated their 50th anniversary with family and friends.

"The secret was caring for each other, being understanding of each other, respecting each other, and of course loving each other," Mr. Canfield said. "That's what it takes to make a marriage."

They were wed on Jan. 8, 2014, in California.

"That marriage certificate, it meant we counted," Mr. Canfield said.

Mr. Bennett was formerly married to Carol Bryan.

Surviving are his spouse, Jack H. Canfield; sons, Kenneth, Jr., and James Bennett; daughter, Sherri Fasbinder; sister, Karen Handzlik, and 20 grandchildren.

A summertime memorial service in Toledo is pending. Arrangements are by Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Animal Shelter.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at [email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in Toledo Blade on Feb. 28, 2016
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